BRENDAN WIMBERLY - Monday, October 15, 2012
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in the summer of 2011, Loukas Tasigianis has been searching for a professional soccer team to call his own.
His dream finally became reality over a year later as the Ridgefield, New Jersey native inked a professional contract with Greek second tier club Ergotelis.
Although it's taken Tasigianis this long to finalize a deal with a club, it certainly hasn't been his first chance to do so.
Tasigianis first got acclimated to Greek soccer while studying abroad in Athens when he trained with Greek superside Panathinaikos' Under-21 team.
Shortly thereafter he went on trial with Greek Super League club Levadiakos, but decided his best option at the time would be to return to Penn to play his senior season.
Once the 2010 NCAA soccer season ended, Loukas was once again faced with the decision to leave school early or finish up his degree. This time the suitors consisted of multiple MLS clubs inviting him to their preseason workouts. Once again Tasigianis declined citing his desire to finish his education.
"I knew that committing to one of those opportunities was the next step I needed to take in order to play in MLS." Tasigianis told Yanks Abroad, "However, my family and I believed it was more important to finish my last semester of college and graduate with a degree."
With his degree in hand Tasigianis attempted to find a Greek team for the beginning of the 2011/12 season. Second division side Ionikos lined up for the former Penn Quaker's services. After agreeing to a deal with Tasiginas, Ionikos were found guilty of fraudulent activity by the Greek Football League and were relegated, after which their agreement with Tasiginas fell apart.
Afterwards, top tier Thrasyvoulos attempted to sign Tasigianis on the last day of the transfer window, but couldn't file the paperwork in time, forcing Loukas to return to New Jersey.
"The situation with Thrasyvoulos and Ionikos was a bit bizarre and very unlucky. To be honest, for a while I thought that those were probably my last chances to play professionally." he said.
As such, Loukas returned to the U.S. and began playing with one of the countries foremost amateur clubs, the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms.
"When I joined the New York Pancyprian Freedoms, I just wanted to keep playing...My time with them however was great and it kept me determined to play at the next level. When the season was over I was ready to give it another shot" Tasigianis said.
His perseverance paid off, and after receiving his dual citizenship with Greece, Loukas signed on with Ergotelis this off-season.
"My experience so far with Ergotelis has been great." he said, "It has been a dream come true to finally reach the professional level, and with a team as recognized as Ergotelis."
Relegated from the Super League last season, Tasigianis believes his team is equipped to return to the top tier.
"The team's goal is to win the league and make it back to the Super League. The coaching staff and players have high hopes and all believe it can happen" he said.
As for himself, Loukas looks to grow into the team and make the most of the opportunities he's presented with, "My main goal for the season is to simply gain as much experience as possible and become a better player", Tasigianis told YA, " The key here is to be patient and await my chances to play in games whenever that might be."